A Perfect Storm

Posted on April 3, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Parent of an Addict | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Yesterday, on April 2nd, it snowed for several hours with white out/blizzard conditions.  This was unusual and must have resulted from a number of variables converging to create just the right conditions for a spring blizzard – the “perfect storm”.

Exactly one year ago, there was another type of “perfect storm.” My daughter, Hayley, was turning 30 years old and I had a birthday party/celebration for her. I didn’t think any of her current “friends” would be organizing any kind of party for her – so, I felt I needed to. I knew that this birthday was a big one for her, and that she was struggling. She hadn’t worked since the previous October and was receiving unemployment with no good job prospects on the horizon.  She seemed to be having a really hard time paying her bills – but then, she always was in some kind of financial crisis. Her dad had moved away to California in January with his relatively new, much younger wife, Jill.  Hayley and her boyfriend of almost four years had broken up months before, and he was now seriously involved with another young woman. Hayley’s “checking-in” phone calls to me became much more sporadic and we weren’t getting together as often.  I had a huge sense of dread in the pit of my stomach, but “stuffed” it. Whenever I asked Hayley if she was ok, or wanted to talk, she said she was fine – to “get off her back”.  I felt this family gathering, in honor of her 30th birthday, was important – a genuine display of our love and support for her.

I invited the few friends I knew of Hayley’s (just 2) and flew her younger brother, Brian, home from California.  Her older brother, Jake, and his family came – wife, Megan, and 2 and 4 yo darling children, Luke and Lucy – and, I drove 2 hours to pick up my 91 yo mother so she could be with us.

The family all gathered on Saturday around noon, had lunch, then decided to take a hike through the river canyon, a short distance away. It was a beautiful day, spring flowers were beginning to bloom, and we had a few hours before the dinner guests would be arriving. To our amazement, Hayley announced that she couldn’t go on the hike with us, that she had “errands” to run.  Huh?  We were shocked. Hadn’t we all come together to celebrate her birthday – and now, she was telling us she had to run errands?  The whole purpose of the weekend was to spend time together with Hayley, and it had taken a fair amount of planning and effort to do so. Nevertheless, we shrugged off Hayley’s quirky behavior, which we had become accustomed to over the years. She was always finding excuses not to participate fully in family activities.  And, she was notoriously disorganized – perhaps she needed to pay some bills?  (she had no checking account or debit card – they’ve caused huge financial problems in the past. She carries wads of cash around to pay bills for which she has to get a money order and then make a delivery in person, in a car that barely works and is usually out of gas – talk about making things hard for yourself.)  Still – we couldn’t quite believe it.

The dinner party was festive and wonderful, and Hayley seemed thrilled that we were all there to ceremoniously launch her in to her thirties. Everyone dispersed around 10:00 pm, with Hayley going home to her apartment.  The plan was for the family  to convene the next morning for breakfast at 10:00 am, after which Megan was going to cut and highlight Hayley’s hair before they (Jake and family) headed back home over the mountains.

Ten o’clock came, and went. As did 11:00 am, 12:00 noon – and no sign of Hayley.  We all were waiting to eat, and finally went ahead without her. We  tried to call her on her cell phone, with no luck.  Finally, at ~12:45 pm, Hayley called to say she had “overslept” and was not at her apartment and didn’t have her car.  This seemed so odd – and troubling, on this birthday weekend we had planned for her. Things spiraled down from there.  At lunch on Monday with my mother, Brian, and Hayley, I learned that Hayley’s power and water had been turned off in her apartment.  She was couch surfing at night with friends, she said, and was at her apartment during the day. Her grandmother took her birthday shopping after lunch at Target – supposedly to buy thngs that Hayley might need for a new job.  What ended up in the bag seemed seemed totally inappropriate to me.  And when we stopped at Costco to buy Hayley much needed house/toiletry supplies, she decided to stay in the car – and was sobbing.  I thought it was due to the 30th birthday milestone, with no job, boyfriend, overdue bills, etc.

Later in the month, after not seeing Hayley since the birthday party, she called me to report that she would be going to jail for 4 days for a shop lifting offense (her third) from the previous summer.  She sounded pissed – at me, of all things!  She said that I didn’t sound “supportive”.  Apparently, her shoplifting offense stemmed from a “beer switching” attempt at a grocery store, where you put more expensive beer in to a different brand carton and check out, paying less than was due. However, cameras in the beer aisle videotaped her doing the beer switching.  Hayley never told us about this charge – and had apparently been trying to deal with it on her own for ~ 9 months. That week of her birthday, she was in court for several mornings to receive her sentencing, which was the real reason behind her sobbing when we were together in the afternoons.  And, I later learned, when cleaning out her apartment after she was evicted in June, that the” errand” she ran on her birthday party afternoon, was to a dentist to get a prescription for hydrocodone.

I’m emotional and kinda shaky this weekend.  Hayley’s 30th birthday party was exactly one year ago.  This has been a year from hell watching my daughter lose everything and slide in to crack, cocaine, and finally, heroin addiction – a variety of circumstances and choices coming together to culminate in . . . “the perfect storm”.  And next Tuesday, Hayley will turn 31 years old. What’s in the forecast? Even Willard Scott or Al Broker can’t reliably predict.


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9 Responses to “A Perfect Storm”

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Hoping your meeting with her goes well. Just show her love and hopefully one day she will accept it all and be on her way to recovery, meanwhile take care of yourself. Even though this is hard to do as I know very well, try to get some minutes if possible of peace in your day and me time where you may possibly not think about her. When we try to lay our heads down at night, we all know thoughts come to the surface. Sleep is overrated these days. I will pray tonight for you that your meeting goes well. My daughter has started to accept the love we are giving. Not that we didn’t give it before, she didn’t want it. My prayer for you is that tomorrow goes well and Hayley comes to see the love and the light at the end of the tunnel which is now dark for her. God Bless!

Birthdays are hard! Hang in there Peg.

Peggy, there are just some things we evan never predict nor control. This is the scariest and most painful part of being a parent. You can’t fix the hole that is inside Hayley but you can continue to love her. I believe that love will make a difference in the end. When she is able to see a healthier road, she will also see your love still present, encouraging her along. Why is life so hard for some and seemingly so easy for others? I don’t understand either but I firmly believe love will prevail. Xoxo a.

Ang – this made me weep. Thanks so much. I’m going to try to see Hayley on Tuesday. XXOO.

It’s amazing how much I seem to need to hear these kinds of words. I’m hoping to see Hayley on Tuesday. She texted me at 1:00 am this morning, asking for her stock dividend $ (nominal amount – ~ $250/yr). I’m so scared to see her, but am going to try. My next post will be about suggesting “harm reduction” (from acquiring Hep C, HIV, infections, pregnancy) vs the detox and cold turkey treatment approach. I am considering things I never have before – and learning more about realistic approaches to supporting addicts and facilitating their navigation around and over the enormous social/physical/financial/legal barriers facing them. Thank you, dear friend, for your love and support. P.

Wow, Peggy. I’ve experienced a lot of the behaviors you describe with my daughter. So many times. Everybody’s knocking themselves out trying to make her feel worthwhile and loved, stepping carefully around her, because she’s so fragile and unable to cope, knowing she’ll flee the minute her sensibilities get the slightest bit tweaked. It’s so exhausting. In truth, my daughter isn’t much better in her Soboxone sobriety. She calls me when she wants to rant and rave, and has little patience with anyone, anything. If she stops by (usually because her boyfriend is at work, and the four walls drive her crazy when she’s alone), she’ll talk to me for a minute or two, then go take a long nap in her old room. That’s addict behavior, yet I see her taking the Soboxone. Unfortunately, real life just seems to be way too hard for her. I’ve always known she had a hard time coping, and, unfortunately, it’s most evident when she’s clear-headed! I am grateful that she has not totally withdrawn from me (as she does when she’s using), because I feel like I can talk her “off the cliff” more often than not. Which is why I hope you get to talk to Hayley, if only for a minute. Not because it will be pleasant (more likely, painful), but so she’ll know there’s a reason to live. I’m praying for you and Hayley…and the rest of our compassionate comrades. Aren’t we lucky to have each other?!

Thanks so much for this comment. It is such a comfort to know that someone knows what I’m talking about and I’m not being overly sensitive or controlling. Yes, we are sooooo lucky to have each other.

I’m going to try to see Hayley on Tuesday, her birthday. I’ll give the update re: her text early this morning on my next blog post.

The big question is – how to help Hayley acquire the desire to change her life, let alone the courage and strength. I know I can’t do this for her – but, I’d like to contribute to building the possibility of her wanting a different life. I think she wants to break the addiction cycle, but not do the work. That has been her pattern for most of her life.

Interesting about your daughter being on suboxone, and still displaying typical addictive behavior. Is she in any kind of NA/AA program or out patient therapy/counseling. My gut reaction is that having a live-in boyfriend is a diversion from doing the work of real recovery – just my impression.

Thanks again for your loyalty and support – it means so much. Peggy

I hope you feel more peaceful today! Never give up hope and do something nice for yourself. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Hayley!

Thanks, Sherry. I do feel more peaceful today and resolved to see my daughter somehow on Tuesday. I have a plan, which feels good. I think I can do it. More details on my next post. Thanks for your comment and support. It feels good. Peggy

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